Gov. Cooper Announces Broadband Expansion In Tier 1 Counties

May 9, 2019

Broadband availability index at 25 Mbps download speeds
Credit NC DIT Broadband Infrastructure Office

Nearly $10 million will go to improving broadband access in 19 North Carolina counties, most of which are in the eastern region.

"They are the most economically disadvantaged counties in the state so we wanted to make sure that they had the connections to broadband to facilitate that economic development that they so badly need," said Jeff Sural, the director of the North Carolina Broadband Infrastructure Office at the North Carolina Department of Information Technology. 

The Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) program will provide a total of $9,855,026 to internet service providers and electric membership cooperatives that compete to make internet service expansion more affordable in Tier 1 counties.  Twenty-one companies will receive matching grants to provide high-speed internet access to 9,800 households across the state.

"We're in the 21st century so a lot of what we do revolves around our ability to communicate using the internet.  That internet connection needs to be the high-speed internet connection that allows for folks to go on and conduct business, or do research for homework assignments, and also for public safety to facilitate the communication of emergency responders," said Sural.

According to a press release from Gov. Roy Cooper's office, 11 out of 14 grant recipients are small businesses based in North Carolina.  In March, Cooper issued Executive Order 91 which establishes the Governor's Task Force on Connecting North Carolina, which promotes broadband internet connectivity and supports the installation of broadband technology, among other duties.  Cooper's latest budget includes $35 million to expand broadband access, including $30 million for more GREAT grants.

The grant recipients include:

County                        Applicant/Provider

Bertie                           Roanoke Connect Holdings

Bladen                         Star Telephone Membership Corp

Caswell                        Open Broadband, LLC

Chowan                        JCMM Ventures

Clay                              Frontier Communications

Columbus                     Atlantic Membership Telephone Corp

Gates                           Roanoke Connect Holdings

Greene                         CenturyLink/Carolina Telephone & Telegraph and NfinityLink

Halifax                         Olsen enterprises dba Cloudwyze

Hertford                       Roanoke Connect Holdings

Jackson                        Sky-Fi Inc.

Jones                            Eastern Carolina Broadband

Lenoir                          CenturyLink/Carolina Telephone & Telegraph and Eastern Carolina Broadband

Macon                         Morris Broadband/Shivers Communications Corp

McDowell                    Morris Broadband/Shivers Communications Corp

Northampton               Roanoke Connect Holdings

Person                          North Carolina Wireless

Swain                           Sky Wave, Inc.

Vance                           Open Broadband, LLC